Donch monkey with me, OK?

OK, this post is for those who are forever complaining about long waiting times at hospitals despite prior appointments for their consultations.

A recent spate of letters in the Straits Times forum page again highlights this evergreen grouch.

I used to belong to this group of complainants.

I just couldn’t understand why long arranged appointments couldn’t be kept by the good doctors, important though they might be as specialists, holding our lives in their hands.

Then age and experience — countless trips to specialist clinics with my mum and other close relatives — have taught me that actually, the large majority of the medical fraternity is caring and hard working.

(Except for one horrible doctor and hospital, both of which shall remain nameless to protect their guilt and let their punishment come not from public odium but from their own conscience — though this is probably fat hope on my part!)

For the rest, being up close with pain, fear and suffering on a daily basis hasn’t desensitise them one bit where their patients are concerned.

Instead, when they keep patients waiting it’s because no two cases are alike and even for the same kind of disease, what might be straight forward in one case, could be complicated and emotional in another.

I’ve seen specialists work well beyond lunch time; I’ve seen them dashing to the hospital’s food court for a quick bite and then back to their consulting room and/or a ward round.

Of cos, I must add the caveat that most, if not all, of my experience is based on what I’ve gone through and witnessed at Tan Tock Seng Hospital which I visit with regularity to fill prescriptions for mum as well as for her to have her blood tested, her bones and chest X-rayed/MRI/whatever and of course for her to see her various specialists.

Over the years, I’ve devised ways to keep cool during the long waits.

First is to separate the tests from the consultation. It could be done at TTSH, so long as the tests aren’t done too far ahead. It means making two trips but it shortens the time of each visit. Also, some of the waiting time to see the doctor could be due to the doctor waiting for the test results, if the tests are done the same day. So, if tests results are already out could mean shorter waiting time to see the doctor!

Second, bring plenty of reading material and/or craft work, so that you have something to concentrate on other than the slow ticking of the clock.

Third, engage your companions in waiting, especially if like me, you are the care-giver and not the patient who may justifiably be anxious about his/her test results and the  doctor’s pronouncement.

If you adopt my strategy, you would be surprised how fast time passes!

Also, you may learn new useful stuff that you never thought of.

For example, during my last visit last week, I learned from someone — who was waiting for the same doctor as my mum — how to suss out a fake Kipling bag from a real one!

It’s all in the hands of the key chain Monkey mascot that comes with every bag.

The hands of the Monkey of a fake bag are bigger than those of the real McCoy, this woman declared.  She was carrying a large red Kipling bag.

As I’m also a Kipling bag fan, I checked my cache as soon as I got home. The bags were bought from the Kipling shop at Bugis Junction as well as from various shops in Shenzhen and Zhuhai and pasar malam stalls in Singapore.

Alas, only the bags from Bugis Junction are genuine. And my informant’s tip is supported by another tip I got from the Internet. The fake bag’s Monkey has a Kipling tag sewn on its body. For the real stuff, the tag is on the Monkey’s arm.

Two Monkeys from my collection say it all.

it's all in the hand n the tag


8 thoughts on “Donch monkey with me, OK?

  1. I have noticed that the U.S. Kipling Monkeys have a light light yellow tags, while those (mostly outside of the U.S.) have black tags… Anyway, I’m sure you still enjoy your body-tagged monkey whether or not it’s genuine Kipling. Don’t sweat the little stuff. Have a great weekend! 😉

  2. Kipling fans of the world, unite! But seriously, some of the now confirmed fakies (using the Monkey litmus tests from Shenzhen n Zhuhai) appear better designed for practical use!

  3. I once waited almost an hour to see my specialist consultant at KK Hospital! When I was finally called in, I complained to him about the long waiting time and said luckily, I brought along a book to occupy myself. He was pretty surprised himself so I asked him how that could have happened. He sighed and said that the hospital schedules the time slots, alloting so many minutes for him to see each patient. However, this being a Women’s Clinic which deals with gynaecological problems, my good doctor said to do a good and thorough examination takes more time than is allocated, and especially when the patient has lots of questions to ask about the condition and treatments. Hence, he would never hurry just to keep to the alloted time for him to see each patient…resulting in all the appointments being pushed back somewhat. Well, I’d rather wait knowing my doctor is more concerned about my well being than keeping time…. as you said, always bring something absorbing to do to while away the time during the long wait.

  4. Solutions to the problem:

    expansion of the facilities for consultation, investigation and treatment.

    expansion of the medical workforce.

    However, solutions have not been fully implemented because of:


    Competition between private practitioners (outside their govt hospital jobs that is).

    It’s a universal issue, sadly. But as long as patients understand that things are pretty much outside the clinicians’ control – like Shirley does – then it makes things a bit easier. Not that it is fair, but there you go…

  5. Hi Shirley n Areya: we are all on the same page. Guess that’s why people who have to see doctors are called “patients”, hehe!

    But seriously spking, mayb one way of silencing the disgruntled over waiting time is to have two queues:

    Those who don’t mind waiting, pay current rates. Wait or don’t wait, depending on how the cookie crumbles.

    Those who insist on not waiting, pay more AND will be allotted exactly 10/15 minutes for consultation. Time’s up and they are shown the door, no ifs or buts.

    A specialist can then see those who don’t mind waiting one day; those who insist on not waiting on another day.

    Now, let’s see the response as the reality of a proper consultatiion sinks in!

  6. difficult if not impossible to implement. the nature of the job contains clinical priorities. if for the sake of proving a point, one or more patient stands to lose valuable consultation time, then it’s not doable tbh.

  7. I was really joking Areya but with this I hoped to hi-lite why it’s so ridiculous most times to complain about waiting when seeing doctors in hospitals.

    The only exception is when the specialist has one eye on his computer screen looking at shares, with half an ear listening to his patient, thus making for extraordinarily long consulting time with each patient, thereby lengthening the queue needlessly. However, I don’t think this happens any more, at least not in tax-payer funded hospitals!

  8. Eh i think if anyone did that, they’d get hauled before management/smc with a sheaf of complaint letters…. hehe

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